Getting Familiar With “Crimean Champagne”

Did you know that 76 years before the “Judgment of Paris” at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, a sparkling wine from Crimea defeated all French entries to claim the coveted “Grand Prix de Champagne?” No this is not a typo, Sparkling Wine from the Ukraine took home the creme de la creme of all awards for Champagne.
crimean sparkling wine
This champion wine house was Novy Svet, made by Prince Lev Sergeyevich Golitsyn, a highly educated member of a Russian Royal Family, at his wine estate in Crimea. At that time, the Crimean peninsula was the largest wine producing region in the USSR. Prince Golitsyn dug a series of wine cellars into the Koba-Kaya Mountain (Cave Mountain), and established his winery in 1878 on the southern coast. Golitsyn experimented with Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Aligote, and Pinot Meunier vineyards for over 10 years before perfecting what the industry now calls Methode Traditionelle allowing the wines to rest in the bottle for three years in the cellars at a constant, underground cool temperature.
By the late 1890’s, the Prince was making over 60,000 bottles of sparkling wine, one of which won the Grand Prix in Paris. The Novy Svet winery didn’t survive Prince Golitsyn’s death in 1915 and the Russian Revolution, however today the restored winery, and underground tunnels are government owned. Under the leadership of Ms. Yanaina Petrovna Pevlenko, the winery continues to produce a wide range of unique sparkling wines.
To learn more about The Novy Svet Winery in Crimea visit
Novy Svet


“The liquor graveyard is full of excellent tasting brands that were never marketed correctly”
Bill Thompson, Beverage Industry Investor

Hendrick’s Gin launches Hendrick’s Air

Have you in your wildest dreams considered sipping Hendrick’s on a flying cucumber…well now you can literally take flight aboard Hendricks Air courtesy of Hendricks Gin. This new ambitious venture commenced in April 2015 with the company’s flagship air craft: a massive dirigible named The Flying Cucumber. Commenting on the new venture Hendrick’s National Brand Ambassador stated, “we have been continually surprised by the odd popularity of our unusual cucumber-infused gin, so taking on the challenge of air travel seemed like the next logical step.” In contrast to the route patterns of conventional airlines, all Hendrick’s Air flights will depart and arrive from the same point, flying in excess of 500 miles per hour equipped with on-board conveniences such as in-flight TV and noise-canceling headphones. The 130-foot long, 44-foot tall Flying Cucumber is adorned with a giant “eye in the sky” which is consistent with the brand’s whimsical brand personality. The carrier’s cucumber motif and insistence on dirigible flight were inspired by the gin’s most prominent note of flavor – namely its infusion of cucumber essence. The Flying Cucumber launched with coast-to-coast expeditions beginning in April and culminating in August, granting  flights to consumers and brand enthusiasts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, South Florida, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, and Chicago

Follow the misadventures of Hendrick’s Air at,,, and (#FlyingCucumber & #HendricksGin)

Hendricks Air Closeup

About Hendrick’s Gin

HENDRICK’S is a super premium gin, made with a number of unusual twists. To deliver a most curious and delightfully unique flavor, Hendrick’s combines a distinct blend of eleven botanicals, as well as the signature infusions of cucumber and rose petals, producing a wonderfully refreshing gin with a delightfully unique aroma.  Hand crafted in Scotland in miniscule batches by William Grant & Sons, Hendrick’s is the only gin that uses a marriage of spirits from both a Carter-Head and Copper Pot Still, a combination that produces a divinely smooth gin that has both the required character and balance of subtle flavors.  Since Hendrick’s was first introduced to America nearly 15 years ago, it has gained widespread acclaim and received numerous awards, including a Double Gold medal in the 2014 Fifty Best Gin Awards; ‘Gin of the Year’ at the Food and Wine Magazine Awards and voted ‘World’s Best Gin’ by the Wall Street Journal. Hendrick’s Gin has an ABV of 44% and an SRP of $34.99.  Please enjoy the unusual responsibly. For further information, visit

Hendricks Bottle Closeup








Photo Credit – Barmoire (Featured Image); La Mag (Hendrick’s Air Close-up)SOURCE Hendrick’s Gin

Ardberg Whiskey Introduces a Drinkable Cloud

Have you ever considered drinking a whiskey cloud? Well thanks to the Ardberg Distillery you can now experience the Islay rolling clouds in a glass via new, hi tech carafe technology that recreates the Scottish island’s thick coastal mists. Developed in collaboration with Dr Edwards from Harvard University and Le Laboratoire, the ‘Ardberg Haar’ utilizes ultrasound pads that emit rapid vibrations producing micro droplets which form the Haar mist. Ardbeg Haar, takes its name from the Scottish word ‘haar’ – a cold fog which sweeps in from the sea without warning, often enveloping Islay and the distillery which clings to its coastline. Commenting on the Ardbeg Haar, Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling and Whisky Creation at Ardbeg, said: “The haar rolling in from the sea is as familiar sight to island life as the precious peat which influences our whiskies.  We believe that in this sampling ritual we have captured the essence of its elusive qualities. The swirling mist will intrigue and immerse people in the aromas, tastes and textures of The Ultimate Islay Malt Whisky.” This cloud slowly moves up the funnel of the carafe before being collected in a glass, from where the liquid can be sipped through a straw featuring holes in the sides rather than the bottom to “enhance” the drinker’s experience.

Ardberg Drinkable Cloud

This innovative and jaw-dropping serving tool is currently being used in venues across Hakkassan Mayfair in London, Hawksmoor in Manchester and Tigerlily in Edinburgh to introduce Ardberg to a new generation of whisky enthusiasts allowing them to experience something unique.

Its truly inspiring as an advocate of craft brands to highlight a 200 year old whiskey distillery that continues to innovate and reimagine new ways for its existing customers and new recruits to truly experience the brand’s craftsmanship, terroir, and overall essence. Great job Ardberg!

Photo & Source Credit: The Whiskey Business

(Islay Island) Credit:

Upgrade Your Cocktails With Homemade Bitters

Williams Sonoma Bitters Making Kit

If you love entertaining guests in your home, the next upgrade you make to step it up a notch could be home made bitters to satisfy for your inner mixology pleasure. If you’re a history buff and glance at any cocktail book printed in the early 20th Century, you will most likely come across recipes that reference the use of bitters. Bitters were made using herbs and citrus fruits, and popularized as medicinal preparations to help cure various ailments.

Okay warning.. when tasted alone bitters can be pretty unpleasant hence the need to add it to your cocktail and not consume as a stand-alone drink. This early tradition provided the basis for what we know as the popular term “cock-tail”, as described in the May 13, 1806 edition of “Balance and Columbian Repository” as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.(Credit: Oh Gosh)
Sounds dated and far-fetched… Well thanks to a partnership between William Sonoma and New York artisan distillery Dutch’s Spirits you can now own a to kit that includes everything you need to make two types of craft bitters at right in the convenience of your home within 15 days.

  • Kit includes everything you need to make Aromatic and Citrus Ginger bitters, including premeasured botanicals, an infuser ball, a swing-top glass jar for steeping the botanicals in vodka and complete directions (see More Info tab for details).
  • Easy to use: follow the step-by-step directions to enjoy your first batch in a matter of weeks.
  • Included bottles with droppers are ideal for dispensing small quantities of your homemade bitters for cocktails and other beverages.
  • Citrus Ginger botanicals blend orange peel, lemon peel, and ginger root to create a delicate bitters well suited for gin and vodka cocktails.
  • Aromatic botanicals blend allspice, clove and anise seeds to produce a bold bitters perfect for bourbon and whiskey cocktails. (Credit: Williams Sonoma)


Williams Sonoma


pop-up distillery: Make Your Own Homemade Gin

Having spent almost a decade marketing and studying the world of fine spirits, I’m super geeked to share my new discovery- a homemade gin distilling kit. One of my all-time favorite brands is Tanqueray Rangpur so I’m not sure about you but I’m anxious to see how I can create my own interpretation of a quality batch of gin without the expensive distilling equipment and corporate barriers.

Join me in the exciting world of DIY booze making and let’s explore together. I’m looking forward to hearing about your concoctions so don’t forget to hashtag #CraftBrandTheory.

You start with a bottle of vodka, which will act as a blank canvas, then add the kit’s hand-weighed juniper berries, mixed spices, and botanicals. The ingredients will need to steep for about 36 hours. Afterwards you’ll enjoy a floral-tinged gin redolent with lavender, sandalwood, and green cardamom, as well as the requisite perfume of sweet juniper. The kit contains two attractive glass bottles for pouring and displaying your batch of quality homemade gin.

If you’re still in the creative zone why stop there. Make some fresh tonic to go with your gin with the Tonic Making Kit.

Try one of my favorite gin cocktails- The Mule


10 mint leaves
1/2 ounce simple syrup (or to taste)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 ounces gin
2 ounces chilled ginger beer
garnish: lime wedge and mint sprig

Gin Mule

You can order both the gin making kit and tonic making kit at

Enjoy and don’t forget to drink responsibly.


As a former Marketing executive with a passion for the arts, there is nothing more satisfying than to see a brand (small or large) connect with the creative community in a truly authentic cohesive way that affords the artist reasonable autonomy to express the brand’s personality and message through his or her own personal style. When the brand and artist partnership is vetted properly and the necessary trust and understanding is established, true magic and brilliance will follow suit.

In this video, the Ballantine Scotch brand partners with South African DJ and musician, Black Coffee to create a short film that embodies the brand’s mantra, “Stay True, Leave an Impression.” The film is directed by Novemba of Cap Gunna Collective and features an a cappella performance of one of Black Coffee’s best known productions, “Rock My World” by a 40-person choir. Witness a brilliant creative piece that reinforces the brand’s identity without any forced or obligatory product placement.

Although Ballantine is a massive Scotch whiskey, second highest selling worldwide in fact, it’s origin as a small whisky brand in Edinburgh is quite fascinating. Ballantine’s origin dates back to 1827, when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store supplying a small range of whiskies to his clientele. In 1865, he transitioned the store operations to his eldest son Arhchibald while he set his sights on larger operations in Glascow. He then had time to concentrate on global trading and began creating his own blends. As demand exploded in new markets and time passed, ownership changed hands to larger investors with the capacity to continue driving the business. By 1986 Ballantine was named the #1 brand in Europe and the third largest in the world… not bad for a once small batch whiskey eh. In 2005, the award winning Scotch brand was purchased by Pernod Richard and continues to live up to George’s high standard of quality and principles.

Check out the video and visit to learn more about the brand.

DISTILLED: Bulleit Bourbon

Over the past decade my taste palate and appreciation of fine spirits has expanded by leaps and bounds having worked at Diageo. Although I’ve tasted a kaleidoscope of amazing brands and cocktails, very few have made an impression on me like Bulleit Bourbon. Could it be the undeniable quality of the 175-year-old recipe or simply Mr. Tom Bulleit’s charming down-to-earth personality? I conclude that it’s most likely a hybrid of both of these remarkable qualities that define the brand. I’ve been fortunate over the years to visit the distillery and speak with Mr. Bulleit on several occasions. After meticulously analyzing the steady growth in popularity of the brand and overall bourbon segment, I realize that quality alone is not enough; it is passion and authenticity that truly separates a great brand from a good brand.


Tom Bulleit & I

Continue reading “DISTILLED: Bulleit Bourbon”